Finn Kimi Raikkonen rode his luck to claim Ferrari's first win this year when he held off a strong challenge from Force India's veteran Italian Giancarlo Fisichella in yesterday's dramatic Belgian Grand Prix.
It was the 2007 world champion's 18th career win but his first since the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix - a welcome fillip for the Ferrari team after a torrid year.
"My aim has been to win at least one race and try to keep third place in the (constructors') championship," said Raikkonen, who could have Fisichella as his Ferrari teammate at the next race at Monza in Italy.
"This is going to help us a lot."
The race was overshadowed by a multiple accident on the opening lap which wrecked the hopes of drivers championship leader Jenson Button and defending champion and fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton, of McLaren Mercedes, both of them crashed out.
Fisichella, who had grabbed his Force India team's maiden pole position on Saturday, came home second, just nine-tenths of a second behind Raikkonen.
"I was quicker than Kimi, he could just overtake me because of the KERS at the beginning," said the 36-year-old, referring to the Ferrari's energy recovery system that gives a brief boost at the push of a button.
"It's a little bit sad for that."
He scored the team's first points and first podium.
German Sebastian Vettel came home third for Red Bull to go third in the title race with 53 points, behind Button on 72 and his Brawn GP teammate Brazilian Rubens Barrichello on 56, with five races remaining.
Pole Robert Kubica was fourth for BMW Sauber ahead of his team-mate, German Nick Heidfeld, with Finn Heikki Kovalainen sixth for McLaren Mercedes.
Barrichello was seventh, nursing his car stricken by an oil leak over the closing laps and German Nico Rosberg was eighth for Williams.
After the extraordinary drama of Saturday's qualifying session, the 44-laps race managed to produce even greater spectacle on the opening lap.
Pole-sitting Fisichella made a clean start, but behind him mayhem took place as the field escaped from the La Source hairpin and raced through Eau Rouge and up the hill towards les Combs.
In an initial incident, Raikkonen's Ferrari collided with Kubica's BMW, but this was just an appetizer for what lay ahead when, seconds later, the two rookies - Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Renault and Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari of Toro Rosso - collided with Button and Hamilton.
All four were removed from the contest in a cloud of debris close to the trackside barriers, the two luckless Englishmen climbing unscathed from their cockpits shaking their heads in disbelief.
Button said: "I got a very good start. I got past Lewis, I made up four places. As we were going down the straight through turn five, Grosjean out-braked himself. It is so frustrating to be taken out like that."
Hamilton shrugged off his fate, commenting: "It's just one of those days.
"I got off to a really bad start, the anti-stall kicked in. I tried to recover but I got hit at the first corner and lost a bit of my front wing. Then I saw Jenson and backed off to avoid it all but got hit from behind."
The safety car was sent out until lap five when, on the resumption, Raikkonen's Ferrari powered past Fisichella and into the lead amid wildfire paddock rumors that the veteran Italian would be joining the Finn in the Ferrari team in time for next month's Italian Grand Prix.
On lap 14, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Mark Webber and Heidfeld all pitted with Webber pulling out in front of the German and having to allow him to re-pass him out on the track. It cost him a drive-through penalty as Vettel took over in the lead before he pitted after 17 laps, handing the lead to Rosberg.
Raikkonen held second ahead of an inspired Fisichella until Rosberg pitted after 18 laps and the Finn regained control.
Both Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso were then forced to retire after respectively a jammed fuel rig and tire problem.
After 31 laps, the front pair were back into the pits together again with Raikkonen and Ferrari emerging in front but with Fisichella pushing hard in second place.
The Italian driver's pace was amazing everyone and Ferrari were struggling to pull clear with Vettel, third, enjoying a relative return to form for Red Bull after two pointless races.
All of this left Raikkonen, revelling in his form on one of his favorite tracks, holding on to his narrow lead from Fisichella over the closing laps.
(AFP/Reuters via China Daily August 31, 2009)